News and Tribune

March 22, 2013

Clarksville students learn firearm precautions

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

CLARKSVILLE —  Curiosity about guns could lead to dangerous situations, but an education program helped local students learn what to do if they see a firearm in the open.

Clarksville Elementary School students learned what to do if they spot a gun while they’re playing or exploring from Eddie Eagle on Friday.

Michael Popplewell, the school resource officer for Clarksville Community Schools, said even in the case of responsible gun owners, a simple mistake could result in injury or worse.

“It just takes one long day when a parent [with a concealed carry permit] comes home and puts the gun on the counter, then a child can come along, reach up and grab it,” Popplewell said. “It takes an instant for something bad to happen.”

With the help of the Dead-Eye Daisies — a local women’s group focused on firearm education — and a local National Rifle Association chapter, students saw Eddie Eagle’s program that taught them to stop, don’t touch, leave the area and tell an adult.

Laurie Bower, a member of the Dead-Eye Daisies, said they were able to bring the program to the school for free. She said while educating kids on how to keep themselves safe, it’s also important for parents to know how to keep their guns safely in the house.

“If a parent already has a gun in their home, obviously they support gun rights and use them as sporting goods for hunting and things like that,” Bower said. “That’s our American heritage and that’s great. But with that also comes with a very high risk. They need to talk to their children about them. They can’t hide things out of the way all the time and not expect their children to not be curious.”

She said if parents have guns, they should always be kept in a safe place if they’re not on their person.

Popplewell said gun safes can be purchased for pistols starting at about $50 or rifles starting around $80 at sporting goods stores.

Bower said if those are too expensive, it’s a good idea to purchase a gun lock and put the gun somewhere safe while storing ammunition elsewhere in the house.

But she also said it’s important to have a conversation with children about gun safety. She said addressing their curiosity with a conversation could help them stay safe if they ever stumble upon a gun.

Popplewell said if parents have any questions about how to handle gun safety at home, they can contact him through the district’s administration office or visit www.nra.org for more information.